In Brief

Boris Johnson facing Tory revolt over ‘lockdown by another name’ tiers system

Reports that whole of England may be placed in top two levels triggers fury among Conservative MPs

Boris Johnson is facing a growing Tory rebellion over his post-lockdown tier system amid warnings that the whole of England may be placed in the highest two levels of restrictions.

Whitehall sources told the Daily Mail that it is “entirely possible” that no area would fall within Tier 1, the only level of restrictions that allow indoor socialising. That prediction has prompted anger among Conservative MPs who warn that the approach will be seen as “lockdown by another name”.

Another Whitehall official told the newspaper it is “entirely possible” that 80% of the country will be placed in Tiers 2 and 3 when infection rates are analysed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty later this week.

A rebel Tory backbencher added that “almost 100” Conservative MPs had raised concerns over the new measures ahead of a vote on the tiers plan next week. 

The threat of a Commons revolt has been growing since The Guardian reported earlier this week that Steve Baker, deputy chair of the newly formed Covid Research Group (CRG), had sent a letter on behalf of 70 MPs warning the prime minister that any restrictions must be justified. The group is demanding that the government “produce a full cost-benefit analysis of the new tiers”, the paper adds. 

Baker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the CRG intended to “stand up for people, because we know that livelihoods matter, we know that there’s nothing quite like poverty for shortening your life and diminishing your life chances”.

Under the new tiers system, the harshest restrictions are expected to apply to areas in the Northwest and Northeast, where despite “a significant fall in cases, [infection] rates remain stubbornly high”, according to an analysis by The Telegraph

A senior Conservative MP told the paper that Tory WhatsApp groups have lit up with “fury” and “anger” over the post lockdown plan. “The idea seems to be to move everybody up, Tier 2 becomes a shady Tier 3, Tier 3 is lockdown. Tier 1 is all but abolished,” the unnamed politician added.

MPs will vote on the new tier system after the lockdown ends on 2 December.

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